March 28, 2020 - A View from the Rectory
It’s much quieter outside the rectory window. This past Sunday was the first time in over twenty years that I have celebrated a ‘private’ Mass. You were greatly missed by me – yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, but even when we are together I am mindful of how greatly inspired I am by your faithful and devout presence to our parish celebrations of the Holy Mass.
I had a rough start with social media as I attempted to live-stream the Sunday Mass on Facebook. Hopefully, by the time of your reading, I will have gotten a better handle on the technology and you will join me (via social media) for weekday and weekend Masses.
From our Catholic point of view, one of the more direct consequence of the restrictions currently being imposed to fight the spread of the virus is the inability to get to Mass on Sunday. Moreover, it’s happening during Lent, and there’s the very real prospect that many Catholics may be forced to watch Holy Week liturgies on TV or their computers rather than attending in person and receiving the Eucharist.
In light of the restrictions, many pastors and theologians have suggested this may be a good time to dust off the traditional concept of “spiritual communion,” meaning a sort of participation in the Mass and the Eucharist for people who, for one reason or another, either can’t go to church or who are barred from receiving the Eucharist if they do.
In a nutshell, the idea is that the desire to receive the Eucharist is a grace in itself, and, if one offers up that desire in prayer to God, it can become an occasion for even greater grace and spiritual growth. Italian Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, a former Vatican official and accomplished Church historian, has recommended the following prayer to people who aren’t able to receive the Eucharist:
“My Jesus, I believe that you’re present in the Holy Sacrament. I love You above all else, and I desire You in my soul. As long as I can’t receive You sacramentally, at least enter spiritually into my soul.” (brief pause to unite oneself with Jesus)
“Since you’ve come, I embrace you and unite my entire self with You; don’t let me ever separate myself from You.”
I offer you this prayer and the assurance that every Mass I celebrate I lift you and those you love to Our Gracious and Merciful Father. My prayer at Mass will be, like the one I have proposed; “I embrace You, My Lord and the people of our parish family and I unite myself with You and them; don’t let me ever separate myself from YOU and these your people.”
Past Views from the Rectory Window: